WHAT IT MEANS: The New Jersey Nets did something they haven’t done in more than three years Monday night: they won heir fifth game in a row. They accomplished this feat by beating the mighty Boston Celtics at home. Spurred by their second unit, the Nets upset the Celtics, 88-79, in front of a sellout crowd at the Prudential Center. It sounds crazy, sure. That’s because it is. New Jersey (22-43) trailed by as many as nine and didn’t score for the final 6:28 of the first quarter, but a 14-1 run sparked by Travis Outlaw and Sundiata Gaines late in the third quarter proved to the difference. Meanwhile, just a night after holding the Milwaukee Bucks to a shot-clock era low 56 points, Boston dropped to an Eastern Conference best 47-18.
TURNING POINT: A 3-pointer by Outlaw, which capped the above spurt, gave the Nets a 74-62 lead with 9:33 remaining, but Boston fought back, eventually getting to within 81-79 with 3:09 left after Glen Davis got a jumper to fall. But the Celtics were held scoreless the rest of the way. The difference, of course, was All-Star point Deron Williams. In his first game back since the birth of his fourth child, Williams had a key dish to Brook Lopez inside to make it a four-point game. And then, he delivered the knockout punch, draining a 3-pointer, his fourth of the game, with 35.6 seconds left to salt the game away.
DIFFERENCE MAKERS: Aside from Williams (16 points, nine assists, six rebounds, three steals, plus-eight). Outlaw had all 12 of his points in the second half. Kris Humphries provided yet another double-double, notching 16 points and a game-high 15 rebounds. Lopez dropped in a game-high 20 points and Anthony Morrow added 15. Gaines had six.
NUMBER CRUNCHING: The Nets’ reserves had two points in the first half. They had 16 in the second half. The Nets shot just 39.7 percent from the field. They scored just one point all night in transition. Rajon Rondo was just 1-for-10 from the field. New Jersey went 11-for-25 from 3-point range.
UP NEXT: The Nets will play host to the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night. Then they’ll embark on a two-game road trip, taking on the Bucks in Milwaukee on Friday night and the Wizards in D.C. on Sunday.